Tag Archives: Intuition

How Trusting Your Gut Can Save You From Sizable Stress

I mentioned recently that I’m in the process of moving back to Canada. If you’ve ever moved, you know that there are certainly lots of things that you have to do when it comes time to start packing the truck. More than that, there are even more things you have to consider when you’re moving to a different country. Granted, some might say that Canada isn’t all that different from the USA, but it is still technically a different country, so that means that there is likely to be paperwork you wouldn’t have had to deal with, had you just been moving to a different part of the country or across town.

On the day of the move (packing the moving truck and leaving the apartment for the last time), I had a couple of library books that had to be returned. Now, I knew I’d be coming back to the area in a couple of months and I knew that these books wouldn’t be due until after I made my trip back to the area, but I just had this feeling that I should return the books on the day of the move. It wasn’t entirely rational, especially given that there were so many other move-related things I could have been doing.

When I get to the library, I hand my books over to the person behind the desk and I start to turn to leave. Just as I do that, I get the sense that I might as well make sure that there’s nothing else showing that I owe on my account. She asks for my library card and then checks the system. Yes, you seem to still have The Power of Habit and What Money Can’t Buy checked out.

I was so confused because I had returned these books about a week earlier when I picked up the two books that I was returning today. She said that it was showing in their system that I still had them checked out, so I explained to her how that wasn’t possible given that I returned them the day that I picked up the books I was returning today. She said that maybe they were still in the back and hadn’t been taken off of my account, so she went to go look.

They weren’t there.

When she came back, I kind of started to panic a little bit. I realize now that having to pay for this library book wouldn’t have been that great of a hassle, but when all your mind is thinking about is packing a 26′ moving truck in a few hours…

Then she said that maybe the books were on the shelf. On the shelf!? I thought. How could they be on the shelf and not shown as returned on my account. She said that it happens sometimes, so her and I went to check the shelves.

Sure enough, that’s where the books were. On the shelf.

As we were riding back down in the elevator, I asked her what would have happened had I not come in today and got this taken care of before I left town. She told me that they probably would have charged my account. To which I said, even though the books were on the shelves? She replied: “Yup!”


I certainly understand the importance of biases in decision-making, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll completely ignore a gut feeling. Sometimes, a gut feeling is so strong that we can’t help but check-in and see what’s going on. I’ve had experiences like this before, so I knew well enough when I was getting this kind of a response from my gut, I needed to follow-through with it. I encourage you to do the same, but don’t take it lightly. It’s important to learn the difference between hunger pangs and a gut feeling. It takes time, so don’t be so hard on yourself if it doesn’t come to you right away.


Why We Lie, Cheat, and Steal: The Truth About Dishonesty

I’ve just finished the 5th week of my 4th year of graduate school. For folks that have been in graduate school this long, there’s usually a development of research interests. Because of the nature of my time in graduate school (1 year in a PhD program, 1 year completing my first Master’s, and now into year two of an MBA), I never really had to declare my research interests or choose a dissertation topic. Though, for my first master’s, I did have to write a final paper. That final paper was on a topic that, if I were asked, would probably appear on a list of my “research interests.” It was on intuition and decision-making. Ironically, I’m working with a professor at George Mason University to test whether or not one can improve the conditions for one’s intuition (in the context of decision-making).

If I were to list another research interest, I’d have to say that it’d be on the topic of ethics or morals. Ironically, during my time as an undergrad, I worked on a research project with a psychology professor where we were examining (among other things) people’s moral judgments. I’ve had an RSA Animate talk bookmarked for about two weeks and I just finished watching it — I think you’ll enjoy it.

It was given by Dan Ariely on the content of his new book: The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves. Ariely is also the researcher I referenced a few months ago when I was talking about the research on American’s perceptions and misperceptions of wealth inequality. I’ve pulled a few important quotes from the video:

“The magnitude of dishonesty we see in society is by good people who think they’re doing good, but in fact cheating just a little bit, but because there’s so many of them — of us — it has a tremendous economic impact.”

“You can’t go and say to yourselves, chef really want their food to be eaten. And it’s really owned by a conglomerate that is really not that good. Some things lend themselves to a much higher degree of rationalization.”

“At some point, many people switch and start cheating all the time. And we call this switching point the ‘what the hell’ effect. It turns out we don’t have to be 100% good to think of ourselves as good. But if at some point you don’t think of yourself as good, you might as well enjoy. And many people, by the way, report this same thing with diets.”

“Your motivation influences how you see reality.”

The Scientific Evidence for Precognition: Psi Phenomena, Part 3

In the of this series of posts on the scientific evidence for psi phenomena, I discussed the myriad proof for telepathy. In , I talked about the evidence of clairvoyance (and remote viewing) and also mentioned that there are probably still lots of studies that were done by the government that have yet to see the light of day (and may never see the light of day). In this, part 3 of the series, I will talk about the evidence for .

Precognition is knowledge of an event that has yet to occur that can’t be deduced from ‘normally known data’ to be present. In short, precognition is an ability to know the future. Writing, in short-hand, about the scientific evidence of psi phenomena has become easier because in the last 20-30 years, there have been researchers who have done a lot of hard work. More accurately, they’ve summarized much of the data up to the point of their study and some have even written brilliant meta-analyses either critiquing or in support of the data. For precognition, there was a meta-analysis published in 1989 in the Journal of Parapsychology called: “‘.”

A forced-choice precognition experiment is where the experimenter gives the participant a number of options (for a future event) where the participant has to select from those options. This can be contrasted with those studies that were done called free-response studies. A free-response study is one in which the range of options/targets for the participant are seemingly unlimited. A good meta-analysis of free-response studies (). There is one other kind of methodology that is used in testing for precognition: unconscious perception. In this method, the participant’s precognitive ability is being tested, in a sense, without their knowledge. The precognitive abilities are tested through skin conductance and EEG activity. I’ll talk about that a little later on in the post. Let’s talk about the results from the forced-choice experiments.

In the forced-choice meta-analysis, Honorton and Ferrari were able to gather 2,000,000 individual trials by more than 50,000 participants. Most of these studies involved participants guessing Zener cards after the deck was thoroughly shuffled (and some obscure randomized factor done through computers or by cutting the deck to the temperature of a distant city). . Yes, a septillion. That’s 10 with 24 zeros after it. To purport that the results do not support the evidence for precognition would be preposterous.

One of the critiques of precognition studies (and parapsychology in general) is that the . However, in the study I was just referencing, the one about forced-choice, the researchers took a closer look at the methodologies used by the studies they reviewed. Stunningly, what they found, when the quality of the methodology improved, so too, did the precognition results. Meaning, as the methodology got better, so did the results for precognition.

Earlier, I mentioned that I was going to talk about skin conductance and EEG tests of precognition. Some of the research that is coming out of tests of these nature can be simply — mind-boggling. Rollin McCraty and researchers at the Institute of HeartMath were attempting to find evidence for intuition through electrophysiological means. Meaning, they wanted to see if the body had foreknowledge of an event before the mind did. To do this, they used skin conductance, EEG, and ECG, to measure the response in various areas of the body before an image was shown to the participant. These images would either be emotionally arousing or not. The participant had no conscious foreknowledge of what image was to be shown to them.

The researchers found that participants’ body knew when the participant was to see an image that was emotionally arousing. The reactions of the participants’ body prior to seeing an emotionally arousing image versus the reactions prior to seeing a calm image were significantly different. In fact, they found that this information was received by the heart before it was received by the brain. You can read the papers written by the researchers:

As was stated in the conclusions of these articles: “Overall, we have independently replicated and extended previous research documenting prestimulus responses.” Meaning, these studies are not the only studies of its kind — offering evidence for precognition. There are other studies () that claim the same.

I have a hard time differentiating my favorite from my non-favorites with regard to psi phenomena and the Big 5, but there’s a special place in my heart for precognition. Particularly because of what it means for us as humans and our interpretation of time. There’s a fantastic two-part episode of Star Trek called that does a wonderful job of depicting a possibility when it comes to the directionality of time.

Of course, we think that time moves from the past to the present to the future — but what if this were not true? Albert Einstein is , “. . . for us physicist believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.” Another good on this matter: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” And one more from : “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Whether or not you believe in the possibility of or the inherent direction of the , it is clear that from our (movies and books), there is some part of humanity that is fascinated by the idea.

Is An Eye For An Eye Ever Justified?

As I’m sure you’ve heard/read/seen, the United States conducted a mission in which Osama bin Laden “passed away.” At first, I was quite shocked. Everything we’d been told about bin Laden was that he was . Moreover, he hadn’t been in the news in ages, and all of a sudden — boom. Then, I felt empathy. Yes, I understand that this person was seen as a security threat to the United States and in some cases, the world, but it is my belief that no matter the crime, taking life is never the solution, nor is it justifiable.

Some of the archived footage of President Obama talking about bin Laden ( and ) and just my general feelings about President Obama make me think that Obama’s original intention in this mission was not to take an eye for an eye. President Obama doesn’t seem like the kind of president who is out for ‘revenge.’ Rather, I think the initial intent was to capture. Some have already , and others think . Others still, think that for the United States (and the world). Other than some of the footage I’ve seen of Obama talking about bin Laden, and my own intuition, I have no hard evidence. There may be some out there, but I haven’t come across it. Mind you, I haven’t looked very hard, either.

The “An-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye… ends in making everybody blind,” is often to Mahatma Gandhi. In looking at the wiki article for “,” Jesus Christ is also quoted as saying: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” However, there is no reference to a specific passage from the Bible (or other book), so I don’t know if that’s accurate.

Byron Katie often says, “.” When I first heard that, it took me a some time to wrap my head around what that is really saying. Defense is the first act of war. So, not the aggressor, but the defender. Sounds a bit strange, yes? She’s so eloquent that instead of trying to paraphrase her ‘thoughts’ on the topic, I decided just to include a YouTube video of her talking about the concept:

While Katie is referring to defense in a communication-sense, I think that her ideas on this topic can be extrapolated to other areas of interaction. As an example: think about a school-yard bully. On the playground, the bully pushes another kid down. In one scenario, the kid gets up, retaliates, is seen by one of the people “on-duty” for lunch and is subsequently sent to the principal’s office. Another way this first scenario could play out is the two get into some sort of brawl whereby both are left injured. In the second scenario, the kid gets up and walks away. The kid does not allow the antagonism of the bully to get to her/him. The kid just ‘brushes it off’ and leaves the situation. More times than not, the bully, who is actually seeking some sort of reaction from someone, will not follow the kid as s/he walks away, but instead, will seek out another person to bully.

Now, the two scenarios I’ve presented leave little to be desired. Many people would want the kid to retaliate or have someone reprimand the bully for what they have done — and I can understand this. But looking at this scenario systemically, the problem is much deeper. The questions that need to be asked are less about the kid and the bully, and more about the environment’s in which these two roles have grown up in. That is, what kind of things are happening in the bully’s environment such that would make the bully more likely to be a bully and what kinds of things are happening in the kid’s environment such that would make the kid more likely to be bullied? If we begin looking into the roots of the problem, we see through the veil, so to speak, and gain a better understanding of the world around us, especially as it relates to ‘unrest.’